As a writer, I don’t even like to speak its name, but I’ll try to be brave.
Writer’s block. Author kryptonite. You sit there staring at a blank page, typing the word “the” and erasing it over and over again until you begin to wonder if you’ll ever write a coherent sentence again.
So, what’s a blocked writer to do? While there is of course no hard-and-fast rule of how to get over writer’s block, here are a few ideas to get you moving in the right direction.
1. Try some music
There’s a reason movies have soundtracks — music is great for getting you in the right mood. If there are certain songs that put you in mind of your story, slap together a playlist and crank it. And if there aren’t any particular songs you associate with your work-in-progress, try some generic music that fits your genre. If you write fantasy, listen to The Lord of the Rings soundtrack or type “fantasy music” into YouTube for a ready-made playlist. If you write romance, guess what? “Romantic music,” bam. Playlist all ready to go. Harness the power of music to get you back on your merry writing way.
2. Write out your ideas
This might sound a bit counterintuitive, since “not being able to write” is the whole problem here, but bear with me. There’s a big difference between writing out ideas and writing an actual page you someday intend for other people to read. Writing out your ideas is just you talking to yourself, so there’s no pressure to make sure that the words are right or even make sense to anyone but you.
Talk to yourself in written form for a while about what you want to accomplish in the scene or where the story is going. Hash out plot problems or character backgrounds. Describe the scene even if you can’t write it exactly how you want to just yet. Sometimes just the mere action of putting words down on paper (or screen) can jumpstart your blocked writer’s brain, and even if it doesn’t, you’ve still accomplished something by further cementing your ideas for the story. Either way, you win.
3. Take a short break and come back
This might sound like an obvious one, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat stubbornly at the computer with my fingers on the keys, trying to force inspiration when it just wasn’t there. You’re not going to break out of that mindset by fuming at your blank Word doc, so go do something else for a little while. Take the pressure off for ten or fifteen minutes, and when you come back, you might find that your brain has settled into a more writing-amenable mood.
4. Remember that your draft doesn’t have to be perfect — it just has to be written
Personally, I tend to feel that the first words I put down on the page should be glorious and shining and perfect, and if they aren’t, then that means I’m a Bad Writer. But the shocking truth is that your draft doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t even need to be good. The first draft is, as the very wise Sir Terry Pratchett once said, “just you telling yourself the story.” As long as you get the words down, your draft is a success. When you reach the editing phase, there’ll be plenty of time to polish those words until they sparkle like a YA vampire, but for now, just focus on laying the foundation for what will, eventually, be a really marvelous piece of work.
Whatever happens, remember that getting blocked once in a while is something all writers experience, and experiencing it yourself puts you in some truly great company. And if you find that the block is continuing no matter what you try, it may be a sign that something’s not working about your story as it is currently. Go back to the drawing board — think creatively about what might be preventing you from moving forward, and don’t be afraid to make drastic changes if doing so is going to help you craft a better story in the end.
And when you’re finished with your draft and are asking that inevitable question, “Where can I find quality editing, formatting, publishing, and promotional graphics services for author-friendly prices?” head over to our main page for what I think you’ll agree is the only possible answer.